By Jose R. Arias, Jr., MD
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8.4 percent of American children have diagnosed asthma. In a concerted effort to improve care for these pediatric patients, the American Lung Association joined forces with existing clinics across the country to launch our “Enhancing Asthma Care Program.” This nationally recognized quality improvement partnership has since proven successful with now more than 450 clinics in 15 states.
The carefully implemented framework includes technical assistance and Lung Association trainings including the Asthma Educator Institute. The American Lung Association Asthma Educator Institute is a professional education course for frontline healthcare professionals, such as: nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, other licensed or credentialed healthcare professionals, and educators with 1000+ direct hours of asthma education eligible to sit for the national asthma certification exam. Also, the course is a great refresher for AE-C's preparing for recertification. Additional training is also available including Implementation and Interpretation of Spirometry, a training course designed especially for healthcare professionals who have the responsibility to administer and implement the spirometry test and primary care providers who will be interpreting the results to assist with diagnosis and disease management.
Is this program effective?
Initial results published in the Journal of Asthma (May 2018), featuring 65 clinic locations in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, indicate a significant change via six key indicators:
- Severity rating
- Patient self-assessment, such as Asthma Control Test
- Controller medications
- Spirometry to confirm the diagnosis of asthma and ongoing management
- Written asthma action plan
- Patient asthma education
Analysis additionally demonstrates a 54% reduction in asthma-related health care costs in the first year, a return on investment well over $1:$2.40.
Is this program sustainable?
- The Lung Association re-engaged 25 partner clinics in a “Booster Shot Program” in 2019 to measure the sustainability of the clinic’s asthma quality improvement efforts. This Booster Shot Program received the Lung Association’s 2019 Innovation Award.
- Health Care Service Corporation has been a primary partner with the American Lung Association since 2012.
….and what does this mean for Florida children?
We asked local physician Dr. Jose Arias a couple questions to help Florida parents more clearly understand the benefits to the “Enhancing Asthma Care Program” as well a few tips for children living with asthma who are heading back to school.
Q: How do you think the “Enhancing Asthma Care Program” will directly benefit children in Florida living with asthma?
A: I think the “Enhancing Asthma Care Program” has been proven to be effective in several schools across the country. It is something that should be implemented in every school in Florida both public and private. Implementation of this program will help children manage and improve their asthma symptoms and will make them feel more comfortable while at to school, knowing adults around them know what to do in case of an asthma flare up.
Q: What do you recommend parents focus on as their children living with asthma return to school?
A: Parents need to focus on scheduling an appointment with their child’s teachers to make them aware of their child’s asthma. They also need to have an albuterol form completed and in school and leave an albuterol inhaler in school. If the child is old enough, complete the albuterol form so the child can carry an inhaler with them and use it as needed, or before exercise if they have exercise induced asthma.
Q: What tips do you have to help children living with asthma help overcome their anxiety about returning to school?
A: Parents and doctors need to explain to the child that asthma is a condition that should not prevent them from doing any activity in school and that they can have a normal life. Let the child know that teachers have been made aware of their asthma and that an albuterol inhaler will be kept in the school whenever it is needed. The child needs to be told that there are many professional athletes with asthma and they do extremely well in competition and that they can do the same.
- To learn more visit Enhancing Asthma Care Program, and sign up today.
- Watch video to learn about the benefits of this program from those who have experienced it.
- American Lung Association – Enhancing Asthma Care Program | American Lung Association
Jose R. Arias, Jr., MD, National Volunteer Medical Spokesperson and Local Leadership Board Member with the American Lung Association, Assistant Professor at U.C.F. College of Medicine and a physician specializing in allergy and asthma with Allergy Asthma Specialists